On Being Born A Witch

This weekend I had one of those caught-off-guard encounters about religion.  I typically consider myself well versed to debate theology, in fact I welcome it. I live in the south, and have the pleasure of working with a very large but close knit group of nerds. We often chat about our thoughts and ideas covering typical no-no topics of politics, religion, sexuality, even personal finances. It isn’t often that I’m uneasy or at loss for words, most especially where my Wiccan path is concerned. However, I found myself this weekend in one of those conversations that you look back at and kick yourself for all the things you should have said; but turned out to spawn a surprisingly introspective evening. It went a little something like this….

I was shopping at a local gigant-o mart, picking up groceries and such for my family, when I happened down an aisle and spotted a familiar face. It was a guy that I had grown up with in the family church. We had been friends, sat in Sunday school together, gone on countless mission trips and outreach programs, and organized Vacation Bible School together. I knew his family and he knew mine, but it has been many years since I had seen him. We struck up the typical ‘how are things?’ conversation, discussing our spouses and children. It was all quite friendly and I genuinely enjoyed catching up. But then:

“Ah, I heard you had turned witch” he said, inclining his head towards my necklace.

And with those words, I was immediately on the defensive. I didn’t like the way he said “turned witch” and my mouth spoke before my brain could catch it.

“I didn’t turn witch. I was born a witch. I was just…” I flailed my hand in the air, searching for the words, “…raised by Christians”

“You make it sound like you were a child raised by wolves” he says,

I laughed it off. “Yea I guess I did. It was good to see you, tell your folks hello.” And just like that I ran away from the entire situation.  I didn’t even get what I needed from that aisle.

I spent the rest of my shopping trip pondering the words that had come out of my mouth when I was unexpectedly challenged about my spirituality. Was I born a witch? Are we born one faith or another? No, I thought. Until my adolescence I had definitely believed the Christians were correct. It was my curiosity and my questioning nature that led me out of the church and into books of religious histories and ancient mythologies. But why had that happened? Was that internal inkling that something wasn’t right, that very curiosity that led me to the pagan path, was that what you’d say was “the call of the inner witch?” Had it always been there, just waiting to come out? And why had I never thought about this until right now?

I’ve practiced for a little over a decade. I stand proudly outside the broom closet. I relish in internal meditations and know that every bit of my spirit is soundly home in Paganism. But with all that I had never really given much thought to if I felt as if I was destined to be where I am. Like so many others in our community, I did experience that feeling of coming home when I found this path. I had always felt this was a sign from my spirit guides that I had found the place that I belonged. But now that my subconscious spit out that sentence, I think it was me that found where I belonged. I’ll admit I have always been a skeptical person and if you had asked me last week, I would have scoffed at the idea of someone being born with inclinations to any particular faith; because logic tells me that religious expression is something that is learned as you develop as a person. But you know, I think I was wrong. There IS something inside us that calls us to where we are. And it can’t be explained and it can’t be defined; but we all made it to where we are because something somewhere inside us told us to look, and we did, and we found, and we stayed. Because we are witches.

And that is the way we were made.

CelticPentacle

this was an original post made 10|16|12 by me

Posted in Pagan | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Pagan Children’s Book Review: “ABC Book of Shadows” and “Gods & Heroes”

I am a book NUT. I started collecting Pagan-y and Earth-y children’s books pretty much as soon as I found out I was pregnant with Wonder Boy. So we have quite a number of Pagan kids books. The subject seems to come up a lot with my other Pagan mom friends, and I am usually the one making recommendations and giving mini-reviews; so I figured this would be a fantastic topic to blog about!

I plan on making these into installments, so that I can talk extensively about 2 books at a time. Each time I will pick one book that is specifically a Pagan or Wiccan oriented book; and one book that is secular but explores pagan themes, promotes Earth stewardship, or teaches mythology from a archeological/historical standpoint.

The Pagan Book: ABC Book of Shadows by Katie Lydon Olivares and April Choi

ABCI picked ABC Book of Shadows to kick off this series of blogs, because this is, in my opinion, the absolute BEST “my first Pagan book” out there. Hands down. To start with, it’s a board-book and extremely sturdy: easily handled not easily destroyed, it is incredibly bright and beautifully illustrated, and the words are all in poetic rhyming verse making it almost sing-song-y to ready through. These are literally the top 3 things to look for in a baby’s book, making this a really fantastic baby shower or Wiccaning gift for a new arrival.

Content:

  • Generalism: This book is fantastically general about paganism and doesn’t site any specific tradition at all. This is the first thing I am mentioning because as you adventure out collecting books, you will sometimes find that you do not agree with some of the ideas expressed in them. Paganism is such a broad term, with such a vast number of different beliefs and traditions that there will be many books you find that just don’t jive with your family’s practice. ABC is probably not going to be one of those books. It does a fantastic job of explaining only base-concepts of Earth religions, and leaves out most of the specifics.
  • Sabbats: Every Sabbat is mentioned and a very short little description is given of each that I find is pretty much in line with the commonly practiced meanings. For example: “O begins Ostara, for balance and Spring”. So it  DOES use some “Tradition” names, but opts for Midsummer instead of Litha and Lammas not Lughnassadh.
  • Pagan Rede: This book has re-named what is typically referred to as the “Wiccan Rede” because it is so applicable to really every person on the planet. ABC simply states to “harm no living thing.” I am so very delighted that they included this and elected to remove the word “wiccan” for inclusion of everyone. I believe this is the singularly most important lesson for anyone of any age to learn.
  • Many Other Little Tidbits: I don’t want to give away everything but ABC does a really great job of touching on the little important things, like the Altar [a sacred place to pray], the Upperworld or realm of the Gods like Olympus for example, and the 12 signs of the Zodiac. Plus lots more!

Age Groups:

  • Young babies love the colors, love the singy-song, and love to pat and slobber all over this book.
  • Toddler aged kiddos will love playing find the object on every page. Each page is so detailed and totally smothered with gorgeous illustrations – we play count the fairies, find all the flowers, find all the moons, etc… Also don’t be surprised when your kiddo starts singy-song’ing along and remembering the words better than you! Mine even likes to point out and name all the Zodiac signs at the end!
  • Pre-School aged children will really begin picking up on the themes and lessons taught in this book. They will start relating concepts like the Sabbats and the elements to things they experience at home or family life and nature; and get very excited when they can make those connections!
  • School aged children are probably getting a little too old for this book; but will still enjoy it mostly for it’s illustrations of things they are now familiar with as Pagans – and if any younger siblings should come about they will surely love being able to read and teach this book to the newbie.

Random Feature: Deity Placement is Perfect!

GHI don’t know if this was intentional… I’m going to hope it was because it is fantastic, but the placement of the Goddess and Horned God are within the same opened page. Conveniently looking at it, the Goddess is on the left and the God on the right… which corresponds perfectly to the common altar placement for Deity imagery in most [not all] of the altar-building traditions of Paganism and Wicca. SO! What that means is once you head on over to my Kids Plushie Altar Tools tutorial and whip up a Chalice and Athame set for your little one, you can prop this book open and place their tools in front for an instant child friendly altar 🙂

A note about this book’s availability: I believe it has recently gone out of printing, and stores and book suppliers are quickly running out of copies. Some Amazon jokers have copies priced in the hundreds of dollars! Don’t be discouraged though keep your eye out for eBay listings and sometimes smaller independently owned online or brick-and-mortar pagan shops will still have a few copies and don’t know how rare they have gotten. A couple of weeks ago I picked up 2 copies for some friends of mine off of eBay for about $40 bucks [including shipping] so that was pretty reasonable at $20 each. Definitely worth it!

 

The Secular Book: Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods & Heroes by Matthew Reinhart and Robert Sabuda

godsI picked Gods and Heroes for the first secular oriented book because it is the most fun way ever to learn about popular mythological tales from all kinds of different cultures: It’s a freakin popup book, guys. An amazing, detailed, so-many-pop-ups-on-every-page-omg-amazing popup book!

Content:

  • Many Many Cultures: This book covers a whole lot, it includes the more “common” European cultures such as Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Nordic mythologies; but also includes things you might not think like Polynesian and Pacific Islander tales, several Asian cultures as well as Native American tales of Incas as Aztecs and more.
  • Very Understandable: The stories and descriptions of the heroes and Gods of myth are spot-on and delightful to read. For example, it describes Odin as the “grizzled lord of wisdom and magic”. The words are strung together just as enchanting as the beautifully illustrative popup work.
  • It’s Fun: Seriously, it’s so fun to read. Each section had a center, giant illustration that comes alive as you turn the page. Then again on every page there is 3 or 4 individual popup page flaps that contain smaller but no less detailed illustrations of each side story told. Even still some of these smaller page flaps contain their own flaps with even smaller popups! It just keeps opening up!

Age Groups:

  • Young Babies: I’m going to say, not recommended for this age. They might enjoy the bright popups, but little smashing hands and slobber would not mix well with this one.
  • Toddlers: With supervision, when read by an adult, this is a great book for toddlers. They will not so much follow the stories, because lets be honest some mythological tales are pretty out there, but you can summarize and explain the tales to them and the popups are amazing and keep their attentions. Just make sure they are out of the “grab and tear” phase or you’re gonna have a bad time.
  • Pre-School: Same as the toddler group, pre-schoolers will love the popups and will actually be able to understand and enjoy more of the stories. A lot of them they may already be familiar with if you have other mythology books and many they will love to be introduced too. At this age they can start manipulating the popups themselves which is great fun especially with the popups that have moving animated parts.
  • School-aged: This is the audience this book is intended for. They will be able to read and follow the stories, perhaps learning a few great vocabulary words along the way. The popups of course make the whole experience so entertaining they will hardly realize they are learning!
  • Middle School: I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that middle school/junior high kids will love this book too. Especially as they become more familiar with ancient stories and learn about them in school. The book is really unique enough to be cool. I mean, there is a giant Thor in full bearded, armored, Moljnir-wielding glory… how cool is that?!
  • High School: So, I wasn’t going to add this age group, BUT one of our friend’s babysitter recognized this book as one that her Literature teacher had in the classroom while studying myths & legends. She said the class fought over who got to look at it first lol. I’m a grown woman and I think this book is fan-freakin-tastic… so apparently this book is for everyone!

norse egypt

I hope you enjoyed this post! Check back soon for more pagan and secular kids book reviews!

 

Posted in Children's Book Review, Pagan, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fun Folksy Felt Fringed Sun’s Eye

It’s true, I may be getting a little ahead of myself here – Litha, [aka Midsummer; aka the Summer Solstice] is still a month away but I am already crafting up seasonal decor to celebrate the sun. I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite Sabbat, but Litha does hold a special place in my heart because it is only a couple of days after my birthday. I’m a child of the Summer through and through! I am probably the only person in the world whose ideal outdoor environment is 100 degree, 90% humidity; also known as an Alabama Summer. I can’t explain it – I just love it!

So to get ready for sun-shining summer fun days, I am filling the dinning room window with summer themed “God’s Eyes”. You know those things you made in camp as a kid with popsicle sticks and yarn? Yes those! Today I am going to take it a few steps further than your Girl Scout Leader, and show you how to craft a folksy style “Sun’s Eye” out of felt:

Fun Folksy Felt Frindged Sun’s Eye

Suns EyeMaterials

  • 2 Sheets craft felt in Sunny colors
  • Pinking sheers or decorative scissors of your choice
  • Needle & matching color thread
  • 2 Sticks
    IMG_0702 1My sticks are upcycled reeds from those scented oil diffuser sets you see these days. Sure they still smell a bit like pumpkin spice but who cares!

Step 1: Cut Strips

  • Cut up the long edge of one of your felt sheets with your pinking sheers as close to the edge as you can get to create the first fringed edge
  • Begin cutting strips, use the width of your pinking sheers as a guide, keeping the strips as thin as you can
  • Sadly I didn’t count how many strips I wound up using, but start off with 8 or so of each color, you can easily add more as needed.

Step 2: Sew All Your Strips Together

  • Using a really basic stay stitch, overlap each piece 3cm or less and place a couple stitches to secure
  • TIP: Keep the stitches centered and you won’t be able to see them in the eye
  • Alternate your colors 1 light then 1 dark
  • When you get near the end you will need to alternate colors by 2’s, so 2 light then 2 dark because as the eye gets larger it takes more material to make it around.
  • TIP: You can sew these on as you go ’round if you’d like so that you don’t have a really long tail when wrapping.

IMG_0704 1Step 3: Wrap the Eye

  • Place your sticks in an X shape
  • Tie the end of your first strip around the center of the X and tie a basic knot, it will probably make your X wonky but you can fix that as you wrap.
  • Pull the long tail around front, and use your fingers to hold the sticks in an X shape
  • To make the eye, you simply wrap OVER and AROUND one stick, then move and do the exact same thing to the next, and the next, etc
  • When you get to your desired size, do one last wrap around then poke the tail into the loop and pull to tighten [you may wind up with a little tail left, you can trim it but not too much or it will come out. This will be on the back of your eye]

Wrapping OVER:

IMG_0705 1Then bring it AROUND the back of that stick and pull it towards the next stick:

IMG_0708 1Poke your tail in at the end:

IMG_0709 1

Step 4: Finishing Touches

  • Use 8 strips of felt [4 of each color] to embellish the points and make the eye more Sun-ray-like
  • Tie 1 light and 1 dark together on each stick and tighten it up to the point to make the “Sun rays”
  • TIP: Use your pinking sheers to fringe up your ends of these strips so they are more finished looking and not straight

Tying “Sun rays”:

IMG_0710 1Clipping off the tips for a finished look:

IMG_0711 1I try to line it up so you get a couple of points on each end.

And there you have it! Super cute Sun’s Eye, all ready for Midsummer! Hang it in a sunny window so it can soak up some rays and use it to call upon Sun energy as needed 🙂

Variations:

  • Instead of felt,  use fun printed cotton material cut into strips for an even more folk-art appearance.
  • Try making one with specialty yarns, there are some crazy yarns out there these days!
  • Make several of complementary colors and hang them together for a beautiful, colorful, Summer display!

PS: hooray for alliteration!

Posted in DIY tutorials, Pagan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“You can’t have that toy, it’s for girls”

“You can’t have that toy, it’s for girls”… A phrase you will never hear in my household. My son has trucks, dinosaurs, and My Little Ponies; Superman, Batman, Spiderman and Wonder Woman; both Diego and Dora; stuffed animals and also baby dolls; plastic tool sets right beside play kitchen cookware. We watch Cars and Cinderella, Tarzan and Tinkerbell; he picks whatever he wants.

This just seems natural to me. We let our son decide what he likes, we don’t tell him what boys should and shouldn’t like. He gets enough of that from advertising and the obvious blue or pink way of coloring kids items. He use to say his favorite color was white, now he says it’s blue. Why is it suddenly blue? His words: “I’m a boy.” No one has told him this, but popular culture taught him by observation. Does he really like blue? Yes! Who doesn’t? Was he influenced by cultural gender identities? Also yes, we all are. This is also a natural part of society. But there is a point that I draw a line in the sand: I will not deny him something he genuinely likes, just because it’s “made for girls”. I’m no fool, I know that the world is full of labels and you will wear many in your lifetime. I’m not setting out to neutralize the world of gender roles. I’m not even setting out to change them. What I AM doing is making sure my son knows that he can like things just because he likes them – because his opinion matters.

I grew up the youngest of two sisters. My parents had planned on having a third, but never did. I suspect that my dad always wanted a son, although he has never said it and loves my sister and I completely. But lucky for him, I was naturally interested in sports and cars and outdoorsy fun like camping. I was often called a tomboy even though I also liked Barbie and Cabbage Patch Kids and wearing dresses to church with the little shiny shoes that sounded a “tap-tee-tap-tee-tap” when I walked. I liked “girl things”, but I also knew I liked things that were “boy things”. I use to sneak up to my parents room and take out my dad’s giant G.I Joe from his childhood in the 1950’s. It was just so cool. I was lucky, and my parents were totally cool with my mixed interests. My best Christmas ever I got the whole Ninja Turtle sewer system complete with Turtles & Shredder… but I also got new dresses and bows for my American Girl doll, and that was just as cool!  I was still called a tomboy though, and that label affected me a lot as I grew. Suddenly I had to be a tomboy, because that’s what I was, right? I vehemently insisted I hated pink [but I didn’t hate it, not really, I think…] Why couldn’t girl’s like lots of things without it having to be boy or girl? I didn’t know.

When I was around 15, I went into a dollar store with my older cousin and his toddler-age son, “E”. On one of the isles, there were these small plush beach balls with bright stripes of yellow, white, green, pink, and purple. E really wanted one, he loved balls; yet my cousin scolded him and told him that was a  “no-no” because the little balls had one stripe that was pink on it. “Pink is for girls, son! You don’t want that. Stop crying.” As a teen experiencing this, I was baffled; actually I was embarrassed. Today, with my parental-hind-sight, my cousin was probably [hopefully] just trying to get out of buying another toy [albeit a $1 toy…] But the thing is, every one around us thought this was totally a normal and okay thing to do – Scold your child, in public, just for liking an object that somewhere on it contained a color that challenged YOUR ideas of gender. Seriously.

I think the twin experiences of having such awesome parents that let me play with what I liked – and then seeing what it is like when a parent imposes weird toy-gender rules that don’t make sense to little brains – was really what made my mind up at a very early age that my kids would be free to be themselves. This concept seems pretty self-evident to me, so I am genuinely at a loss for words when I mention something the Wonder Boy is playing with and get weird looks or comments. Yet it happens, and it happens all the dang time!

The thing I get asked the most is “Why are you trying to make him feminine?” The short answer: I’m not!! It’s what he likes! In fact, every stereotypically “girl” thing my son likes, has a completely legit reason why he was introduced to it, and it has nothing to do with anyone trying to “feminize” him.

Wonder Boy loved Blue’s Clues when he was very small, he loved Blue and Magenta and all the characters. So he has a Blue and a Magenta [pink] little doll set. Oh my goodness! A pink dog! Later he began loving Go Deigo Go! Diego’s cousin Dora comes on the show often, and we ran out of Diego episodes on Netflix, so what does it suggest? Dora! He already knew the character, so he took to the show immediately. Enter the Dora blanket and the Dora bowling pins. Oh my goodness! A bowling set with a couple of pink colored pins! Around that time I was talking to a co-worker of mine about trying to find a Dora backpack, his response was “you mean Diego?”.. No, Dora… *strange disgusted look* The kid likes Dora, what can I say? It’s a great show. Netflix is also one of the reasons he started liking My Little Ponies, because he saw it in the suggestions and recognized they were horses, and he likes playing horse around the house with his dad and I. So we watched a few shows together, and he really liked the bright ponies, so I gave him a couple of my old ponies from the 90’s, and within minutes of playing with them, he asked for more ponies. His play with them consists of stacking them up and knocking them over, galloping them around making neighing noises, or of course letting them take care of his dinosaurs. [Because ponies and dinosaurs are totally friends. Ask anyone.] Everything just came about very naturally, he likes pretend cooking because he watches his father and I cook, he likes baby dolls because we have friends with an infant… and so on…

dorablanket
Wonder Boy and his apparently gender-taboo purple Dora blanket and tie-dye pillow with some pink on it. Oh my!!

Which brings us to the second thing I hear all the time: “That [toy] is going to turn him gay.” Ooo just typing that makes my blood boil! In the words of my favorite blogger – that is a good way to get yourself sporked in the taint! But I do live in the “deep south”: Where preachers scream hellfire and brimstone, and bigotry is a family value. Of course not everyone is like this, but there is more than enough to go around. Even one of my husband’s best friends in the world couldn’t stop himself from asking if our son playing with ponies was “healthy”. Seriously dude… “healthy”? As if playing with a freak’n pony is in some way detrimental to his well-being. There is just something about that gender line that gets under the skin of even forward-thinking people. I have noticed that it is mostly men who are concerned that childhood toys would somehow change the core chemistry of my child. I’m not sure what that means, perhaps women are just more reluctant to mention it, or perhaps they genuinely don’t see it as the same “problem” that the men see. Or maybe I have some internal bias that is making it seem that way to me, open to all possibilities here. But can I just scream for a minute:

A PERSON DOES NOT “BECOME” GAY!
A PERSON CANNOT BE “TURNED” GAY!

I mean come on people, is it not the 21st Century?

SO: Let your kids be themselves. Get out of your “comfort zone” if you have to, and learn who your children are – because they are little amazing opinionated people! If you don’t, the only thing you are hurting, is them.

Posted in Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Superhero Utility Belt DIY Tutorial

Because Superhero’s Need Doodads Around Their Waist

I’ve seen so many cute DIY Superhero costuming tutorials online, especially since there has been a recent resurgence of comic book movies. It is now totally cool to be a comic hero nerd. This is great news for our family because we are comic loving folks! There is a reason my “blog-names” for my husband & son are Superman & Wonder Boy! Sadly though, most play dress-up sets I see include a mask and a cape and maybe even wrist bands but that’s about it.

ImageLike this super cute set from Feelincrafty

So, where is the love for the utility belt?! This is a seriously overlooked and under-appreciated article of superhero awesome! In my opinion, the utility belt is the one super item that instantly transforms the whole look of a costume or outfit from so-so to super-tastic. It’s the best accessory ever! And if you make it generic it will go with soooo many different costumes! Wonder Boy has a yellow utility belt, which he wears as Superman, Batman, Robin, Aquaman, and Hawkman… even Flash has a yellow belt even though his is really different it could still work – could even work for Green Arrow even though his is actually very light green. And female heroes: Wonder Woman, Batgirl and Supergirl all have yellow utility belts too – and I am sure there are way more! Don’t even get me listing the characters with black belts! My point is, make one! They go with everything and will expand your dress-up box and polish off all of your kiddo’s superhero costumes with just one easy project.

SuperBelt

So today I am going to explain how to construct your very own Super Hero Utility Belt. Wonder Boy’s is fashioned mostly after the Superman/Batman/Robin style compartmentalized utility belts. You can easily follow the same basic construction, with different shapes or placement of the “pouches” and “buckle” and change the look of the belt entirely.

Skill Level: Beginner

  • basic sewing

Materials

  • 2 sheets Yellow or Black craft felt
  • Yellow or Black cotton  material [about 2″x40″]
  • circular 2″-3″ diameter tracing object [like a jar lid]
  • BOTH Yellow & Black embroidery floss [BOTH, no matter what color belt]
  • sharp sewing needle of your choice
  • sewing machine [optional, can do all by hand if preferred] & thread
  • scissors duh

Step 1: The Tie Strip

  • Cut a length of cotton material that is approximately 2×40″ [longer if needed]
  • Tri-fold the strip lengthwise: fold one side 3/4 of the way in, then iron, fold the other side in so the raw-edge is about in the middle of the strip. You should have a strip that is an inch or so wide, with the raw edge of the cotton showing on one side.
  • Fold the ends up into themselves 1/4″ – or just fold them over if you don’t mind an unfinished seam
  • Zig-zag stitch down the middle of the entire length of the strip. The unfinished cotton edge should wind up in the middle with the folding, so zig-zag over that edge to keep it from fraying. I like to use contrasting thread for pop but you can do whatever.

Step 2: Prepare the Felt

  •  Cut 2 rectangular belt pieces: Cut the strips to your preferred size for your belt. Wonder Boy’s is 1.75″ wide, 1″ would probably be too thin to hide the cotton tie strap, so anywhere from 1.5-2″ would work. Just use the size of the felt sheet for the length, it will be either 12″ or 11″ depending on brand.
  • Cut 4 rectangles for the “pouches” – size is up to you, but make sure they are larger than the belt piece, see the diagram.
  • Cut where you see the dotted lines on the felt rectangle inset on the diagram [to the left of the big writing.] You are making 2 little cuts that will allow you to thread the “pouch” through the belt piece.
  • Cut 2 circles for the “buckle” –  use a circular tracing object like a lid to cut out circles that are larger than the belt.

Step 3: Construct the Belt

  • Thread on the 4 “pouch” pieces to the belt piece, 2 on each side. Lay the circle “buckle” on the center so that you can get the spacing correct.
  • Using contrasting embroidery floss [I use 4 strands], stitch the sides of each “pouch” to the belt piece. Look at the picture or diagrams for reference.
  • Lay one of your circles BEHIND the belt piece, center it, and then put a couple of stay stitches in the very center so that the BACK piece of the “buckle” is secured to the belt piece.
  • Lay the other circle onto the FRONT of the belt piece, so that it lines up with the back piece you just secured. Using contrasting floss, stitch around the outside of the buckle. [TIP: Hide your start and stop stitches near the center so that they will be covered up when we add the back belt piece]
  • If you are NOT making this generic, you can stitch a letter or symbol onto the “buckle” piece before sewing the front and back “buckle” pieces together.

Step 4: Sew It All Together

  • Lay all the pieces together like this: The leftover belt piece on bottom; then lay the long tie strip across the belt centered so that the middle of the strip is in the middle of the belt piece, then lay the belt front on top making sure the everything is squared up.
  • With same-color thread, securely stitch all of this together with two lines of stitching all the way across [skip over where the “pouches” and “buckle” are, just stitch the belt pieces]
  • Make VERY sure that you are catching the cotton tie strip with your needle with every stitch, sandwiching it between the two felt belt pieces.

IMG_0412 1IMG_0410 1
Utility belt paired with any Superhero t-shirt becomes an instant costume!

babyrobin

Posted in DIY tutorials | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The best things in life are Free!

Hey hey hey, it’s Free Craft tutorial day! Where I take crap we have around the house and make something out of it! I assume you have basic crafting supplies [scissors, tape, paint/crayons, etc…] so if you do not, then it might not be totally free for you, but it will be cheapy-cheap I promise!

My absolute favorite, totally free, totally versatile, totally AWESOME crafting material ever is the cardboard box. Seriously, give a kid a big ole box and he’ll be entertained for days! When we get boxes, they go through many phases of play before they are finally thrown away, usually used down to pieces and covered in markers and paint lol.

Today I am going to show you the Wonder Boy’s newest freebie plaything:

Wall Mounted Toy Car Race Track

Image

Cool, right?! And it’s so simple! This just kind of came about while Wonder Boy and I were playing flinging cars around a cardboard box we have been re-using since Valentine’s day. I’ve seen the wall mounted hot-wheels tracks in the toy shops before, so I decided we could totally craft one of those up for zero dollars. And I am all about zero dollar fun!

  • Cut cardboard strips about 4 inches wide [eyeball it… this is not science]
  • Fold the sides up about 1 inch all the way down the length of the strips to make guardrails so the cars don’t fly off the road
  • Use A LOT of masking tape [because it is less likely to pull off the paint on your walls later] to stick the strips to the wall in whatever design you want.
  • You will need to tape one of the guardrail side flaps to the wall, AND THEN go under the structure and fold strips of tape in half length-wise so that you can stick it to the wall & to the bottom of the road for stability. Don’t skip doing this because the weight of the cars will pull the fold flat after a lot of use if there is nothing under it for support.
  • Obviously make the whole design in a downward manner so that gravity will pull the cars
  • Paint it! I did ours like a road and painted the tape on the wall like greenery. Use crayons or markers if you don’t have paint. I had some stray masking tape at the top that I didn’t like the look of, so I colored those with markers to look like buildings and road railings. Let the creativity flow!

NOTES: I put a toy bin at the bottom because cars were flying all over the place. You could just make it all the way to the floor, oooooh! or you could even put a little track on the floor! I just ran out of room because Wonder Boy’s closet door is right there.

Other Uses & Ideas:

  • This would be fun for older kids to make or paint themselves.
  • If you have an open wall, you could make a really long one with various levels that would be super fun!
  • Imagine how cool this would be for a Cars birthday party! Decoration + Activity in one!

Hope you enjoy this Free Craft tutorial! Like, Share & Pin!

Image

Posted in DIY tutorials, Free Craft | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Making an Anti Saint Patrick’s Day Wreath

If you surf around the Pagan DIY community, you are bound to have come across this springy Pagan snakes project from Patti Wigington over at about.com <- her tutorial here.

Inspiration:Image

How cute is that! I have read through Patti’s tutorial several times over the last couple years and this year I finally decided to get to it! The construction of the wreath is pretty straight forward: buy a wreath, add greenery, add snakes, tie a bow and ta-da! So why am I even bothering to re-do what’s already been done? Because snakes! I happened to find the exact snakes used here, and I am not bound by the same marketing rules she is on her site, so I thought I’d go ahead and share why these are perfect for the project at hand.

I spent quite some time trying to find snakes for this project. If you google “snake wreath” you’ll discover that Martha Stewart actually did a snake wreath, but for Halloween, and there are many variations of her wreath online. Well that’ s not exactly the feel that I was going for, I definitely don’t want it to be scary.  I absolutely love the happy colors of Spring time! But most of the snakes I found come in semi-realistic colors, and would need to be painted in springy tones. Another problem is that a lot of the toy snakes are really floppy slithery shapeless, so I didn’t want to have to shape the snakes with a TON of hot glue.
After a couple weekends of failed toy snake shopping excursions, I hit Amazon and finally found the perfect spring time snakeys!

Sack of Snakes by Melissa & Doug

MelissaDougSnakes

The exact snakes from the original post, and I can see why! These guys are rigid enough that their shapes hold; but flexible enough that you can curve them to your wreath, and are already bright and happy colored! Not to mention that two of them are in an awesome spiral shape, perfect for this purpose! I will note though that mine did not come with tongues out like you see in this image and on the inspiration wreath. Bummer because little snakey tongues are totally cute, but not important at all lol.

My Wreath:

IMG_0389 1

I’ll try to get a better picture later when it’s hanging on my house. [My camera is no longer functioning so this is from my phone.] I decided to go with more flowers and springy things, partly because I love flowers on everything, and partly because I had these on-hand and didn’t want to buy a lot for this project. I think it came out great though!

Some Snake-Adhering Tips:

  • The snakes do have some give to them, but it is very little. When hot glueing them, don’t do what I did with snake #1 and put a line of hot glue on the snake and press it on. A lot of the glue won’t be touching anything when the snake pulls back to it’s shape. Instead, lay the snake on glueless first and find 3-5 anchor points on the snake and then load up those spots with hefty dollops of glue; then press.
  • Although Patti warns against touching the nib of the glue gun to the snake, these particular snakes are harder plastic and if using a low-heat gun, there is no issue. So after the snakes are secured with the first round of glue, go back and stick your nib in where you can to get more glue under there and keep them on better.
  • The heads are the biggest and best part to anchor with glue, so try to plan it so that their heads are laying on larger cross-sections of the vine wreath so you can utilize that stability to the max.

Any who! That’s all there is to it. Very simple, quick, and fun Spring project! Celebrate the snakes this Saint Patrick’s day! We are not gone!

Posted in DIY tutorials, Pagan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Universe Blooms from the Bosom of Every Mother – My Pregnancy Belly Cast

So I had my son 2 and a half years ago now, but for some reason I have never posted pictures anywhere of the beautiful pregnant belly-cast that Superman and I made the night before my c-section. [Wonder Boy was breech with no intention of turning] It was such a fun and intimate experience, sitting up late together creating this lasting memory of my full mother Goddess rockin body!

After the cast was made, I stuck it in the top of a closet where it stayed for many months. As we started preparing for Wonder Boy’s wiccaning ritual, I knew the time had come to finish it. People do wiccanings at all different times in a child’s life, sometimes right after birth, a year old, or even older than that is common. We personally decided to do Wonder Boy’s at his 9 month old mark; the day that he had officially been on the outside for as long as he had been inside me. The belly-cast was going to be a focal point for the altar.

It was rather thin, maybe 3 layers thick of papier-mache, so the first thing I did was reinforce the inside of the cast. This gave it more thickness without changing the shape. I then wetted down the outside with a moist sponge and rubbed it until it was smoothed out. I let it dry, then sketched out my designs in pencil, then spent the next 3 days painting it all.

I knew I wanted to have tree branches hugging the form, that I wanted the main belly to be the Earth [a la Gaia], and to have the breasts be a moon and a sun. I wound up not getting all the continents correct on the Earth because I was so tired by the end and jsut trying to finish, but I still love how it came out. The moon and sun are both highly stylized and each side is accented with metalic silver or gold.

Image

ImageImage

So here it is then! I hope you all enjoy the pictures and may it inspire you to artistically capture your pregnant self forever as well! I definitely am VERY glad I made this, and love looking back at it and remembering those days and those BOOBS! Dang!

Posted in Pagan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Plush Childrens Wiccan Altar Tool Set

Make A Nice Plushie Athame and Chalice For Your Little Witch

IMG_1221These instructions and patterns are my own intellectual property which I gladly share with you, but please be nice and do not use them for profit!

These sets make amazing Wiccaning or Pagan Baby Blessing gifts, or for when your little one starts getting interested in your altar, or just for funsies! I have made several over the years for my son and for friends, and they are always a big hit.

Skill Level: beginner

  • basic sewing

Materials

  • pattern printed and cut out
  • 3 sheets of craft felt in appropriate colors
  • Polyfil stuffing
  • sewing machine & thread [optional, you can hand-sew everything if you have to]
  • hand needle and embroidery floss OR fabric paint
  • a pen for marking material and to help with turning and stuffing

Download & Print the PDF pattern here: ToolsPattern

*Adjust scale as needed to print on full page.
*If you want larger tools, use a copy machine to enlarge the image.

Step 1: Prep

  • Cut out all your pattern pieces on the line. Note: there is only one Diety image, it will be turned to make a Triple moon as well as the Horned moon.

Step 2: Trace The Pieces

  • Choose your colors for each piece. I suggest doing the Chalice blue, and the Athame grey with a black or brown handle. The felt with the embedded glitter looks great for the Athame blade, but is not appropriate if making this set for a child under 2 years.
  • Determine which side of the felt you want to be showing – RIGHT SIDE [I like the flatter/non-fuzzy side to the be inside – WRONG SIDE because its easier to mark on] and trace the pattern pieces on the WRONG SIDE of the felt.
  • TIP: Use a light color pen, enough that you can see it but will not bleed through to the other side. If you have a disappearing ink pen meant for sewing, use that.
  • TIP: do not place your patterns directly side-by-side. You will need to leave room for seams, so trace the pieces at least 1″ apart.

tracing

Tracing the Chalice with disappearing ink pen. I only had this dark purple felt for tutorial purposes, and its a bit too dark to see the lines. This is not the ideal material for this project, but its what I had on-hand.

  • For the Athame, you will need ONE piece of the dark handle material and then 2 pieces of the light blade material.
  • To get the handle material, simply hang the blade part of the pattern off of the felt piece, as pictured:

IMG_0231

Tracing the black handle of the Athame.

Step 3: Cutting Out the Pieces

  • VERY IMPORTANT: Do not cut ON the lines you have traced. These will be your sewing lines. You need to cut about 1/4″ around the lines you drew. It does not have to be perfect, you will trim these up in later steps.
  • Cut out all your pieces.
  • You should be left with 5 total pieces of material.

IMG_0232

I realize it’s difficult to see the tracing lines here but you get the picture. Leave room for sewing!

Step 4: Diety & Detail Embellishments

  • This step has a lot of room for personalization, you do not have to use the Diety representations I have included, or any at all for that matter.
  • You can either embroider the designs on [MUST DO THIS if making for a child under 2 years for safety reasons] or just use fabric paint to put the design on [NOT appropriate for young kids] I will do one of each to show you.
  • You will be adding these designs onto the tip of one Athame blade, the Athame handle, and one side of the Chalice
  • First, you have to figure out where the center of your material piece is. Looking at the WRONG SIDE where you have your trace lines, stick a pin through the very center of the pattern.

IMG_0233

  • When you flip the material over to the RIGHT SIDE you should have a pin line in the center like this:

IMG_0234

Marked centers with pins shown here on the RIGHT SIDE

  • Place the design patterns on the RIGHT SIDE and very lightly trace around them, or dot around them so that you can see the outline.

IMG_0235

Note the pin showing I have it centered to the sew lines on the back, NOT centered to the cut-out shape as viewed from the front.

  • Embroidery colors are your choice, I like silver details on the Chalice and gold details on the Athame OR blue & green details on the Chalice [for Goddess elements water and earth] and red & yellow details on the Athame [for God elements of fire and air]
  • Use a back-stitch to embroider your design. Note that the smaller your stitches, the more defined your design will be.

backstitch

  • Secure your start and finish tails with a tight knot.
  • If you are making these for a child under 2 years: add a tiny tiny tiny dot of tacky craft glue [or white glue] over your start and stop tail knots for safety to keep the embroidery from pulling out.
  • The Athame also gets details on the blade to make it look double edged. Stitch a line up the center, and then V at the top to make the pointed tip.

IMG_0236finished

The metalic thread makes this look weird in a photo, but those stitches are closer together than they seem. I did this really quickly so its not as straight as it should be lol. Showing here with the pattern on top so you can see the shape better. The Athame blade detail is from a different set where I did the elemental colors.

  • To do the Triple Moon on the Chalice, turn the design sideways and trace around it, then turn it the opposite way and trace the other crescent on.
  • The Chalice also gets the oval cup opening at the top.

IMG_0237

This is what it looks like with fabric paint, I used yellow here so it showed up better for the photo.

Step 5: Construction

  • First you need to attach the Athame handle piece to the blade. Line up the the two pieces with both RIGHT SIDES [the decorated sides] facing up. Use the sewing lines on the back to help with this.
  • Stitch a line across the top of the handle piece, as close to the edge as you can comfortably get.

IMG_0306IMG_0307

  • Then trim the excess white blade material piece off of that back to reduce the thickness. [This is a necessary step or turning the piece when finished will be very hard]
  • Cut about 1/2″ from the stitched line.

IMG_0308IMG_0309

Trimming the back piece off reduces the thickness and really helps when you are turning the Athame after sewing.

  • Now you are going to stack the Athame and Chalice material with RIGHT SIDES together. Line up the drawn sew-lines as best you can, make sure your Diety designs and details are centered.
  • You will have the sewing lines on top [on WRONG SIDE of the back piece] as your sewing guide.

IMG_0310

  • Starting at the bottom of one side, sew all the way around the tool **LEAVING THE VERY BOTTOM OPEN FOR TURNING AND STUFFING**
  • Use your scissors to trim around the seam edges and remove the excess material

IMG_0312

Athame sewn up – bottom open, extra seams trimmed

IMG_0314

Chalice sewn up – bottom open, extra seams NOT trimmed yet

Step 6: Turning

  • VERY VERY VERY carefully turn your tools inside out. Don’t pull to hard, work the material up into itself.
  • Seriously I cannot stress how carefully you need to do this lol. Be patient!
  • TIP: the Chalice is the most difficult because of the narrow center and wide top. Take your time, go slowly!
  • TIP: use the end of your pen to help poke through the narrow parts.

IMG_0315

Chalice mid-turning.

  • When you get it turned roughly, the shape will not be well defined yet.

IMG_0316

Shapeless Chalice

  • Use your pen again to reach in and really push out on all the seams to define the shape.

IMG_0317

Shaped Chalice, see the difference?

  • Do the same thing for the Athame – turn and shape it.

IMG_0318

Almost done!

Step 7: Stuffing & Finishing

  • Stuff each tool with polyfil [or other filler of your choice]
  • TIP: use that trusty pen again to get the filler all the way up in the too

IMG_0319

  • The filler will settle some with use, so its a good idea to stuff it very firmly.
  • Once stuffed to your liking, fold under the bottom flaps.
  • TIP: since the stuffing is in there, I find pinning the edges helps sew up the bottom better

IMG_0320IMG_0322

  • Then just sew across the bottom with your machine, get as close to the edge as you can.
  • TIP: back-stitch at the start and stop for stability, or sew the line twice.

IMG_0321

sewing it up!

ALL DONE!!!

IMG_0324

TUTORIAL SET ALL FINISHED!

SOME OTHER EXAMPLES OF FINISHED TOOL SETS:

IMG_1221

These I did with the elemental colors mentioned in the text.

IMG_0208

And these are my son’s tools, they were the first ever that I made. They are VERY well played with, as you can see haha. I actually cut out the designs with felt and appliqued them on for his. A bit more labor intensive but just to give you an idea of all the variations you can create with the pattern template.

I truly hope you enjoyed this tutorial and crafting huggable tools for your little witch 🙂 Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or suggestions for this tutorial!

May all your days be blessed,

Rev. Emairelhd Eartheart

emairelhd [at] yahoo [dot] com

Posted in DIY tutorials, Pagan | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments